May 01, 2014

Jadeveon Clowney, Houston Texans Rock 2014 NFL Draft Boat, Teddy Bridgewater Falls Overboard.

As happens every off-season, a furious rotation of speculation fills planet football’s atmosphere. Media outlets big and small seek to capitalize aggressively during the wasteland gap between the Super Bowl and the NFL draft. If there is a pigskin-related story to be had, you better believe it’s going to be sought out like a Wonka golden ticket.

On that note…

After a very disappointing 2013 season (2-14)—a season which yielded multiple debilitating blows—the Houston Texans rest at the top of the NFL draft board with the first overall pick.

Season woes aside (I’ll come back to those shortly), the Texans are confronted with what appears to be a very difficult decision: Whether to take a QB with their first pick, unquestionably their greatest need, or draft a certain top-ranked, “freakish” former South Carolina DE with a giant question mark floating above his 6-foot-6, 275-pound frame.

Trying to get a grasp on which college prospects will excel at the next level, as history has proven time after time, is not an exact science. That being the case, Houston heads have their hands full when it comes to trying to figure out which player will benefit their organization the greatest.

Top two draft options for the sinking Texans.

 1. The Texans’ best option in the draft is to take a player that can help move their defense back into the league’s Top 10.   Jedaveon Clowney might be just the right guy to help them do that.

Clowney’s first two high performance seasons in college (21 sacks, 35.5 tackles for a loss, 8 forced fumbles) catapulted his draft value to elite status, and seemed to leave little doubt of his ability to dominate almost at will. Flash forward to his production in 2013 (3 sacks, 11.5 tackles for a loss, 1 forced fumble), and there is an obvious decline in his physical and statistical output. In an attempt to nail down the cause of the sharp decline, I decided to search out different sources to better put things into perspective.

Some experts seem to be on the fence when it comes to Clowney’s ability to be productive as a pro.

“He’s the most talented player in the draft,” Mayock told the Philadelphia Daily News. “A physical freak. The only downside to him is whether or not he’s motivated to be the best every week.” -Mike Mayock

“My grandfather taught me something a long time ago,” Sapp said on “NFL Total Access.” “You will never get more money by doing less work. I look at Jadeveon Clowney’s (game) tape and I don’t see a guy that is playing with his hair on fire, making plays, running up and down the field sideline to sideline, doing all of the things.” -Warren Sapp

Others have made it abundantly clear that they have serious reservations concerning his drive to excel at a the next level.

“You look at him as a fundamental football player when you talk about feet, hip and hands, like we watch Khlail Mack, he’s actually atrocious,” Hoge said. “Clowney as a football player is not very good. Amazing athlete. Don’t get confused by being an athlete and being a good football player. Not a very good football player.” -Merril Hoge

“He’s spoiled, and he’s lazy,’’ the NFC personnel man told Eckel. “He’s never worked hard a day in his life, now all of a sudden you’re going to give him a bunch of money and expect him to work hard. I don’t see it.’ -Anonymous NFL executive


Based on the above quotes–and too many other outside sources to reference–Clowney’s NFL future  appears to have been narrowed down to two main concerns: work ethic and technique.

When it comes to a superior athlete like Clowney, it helps to apply the “glass half-empty or half-full” metaphor. If you’re a “half-empty” type of person and you buy into negative criticism, you’re probably going to see a player that lacks the essential discipline, skill set and motor to push himself to be as good as can be. If you’re a “half-full” type of person, you’re going to see a young guy who hit a slump his final year in college, and, at times, looked as though he may not have been giving 100 percent. But you find a way to look past that because you know the reward of possibly having an elite pass rusher on your team is worth the gamble...


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